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Wintering in Wine Country

Ten Reasons to celebrate the holidays and beyond in the Napa Valley.


Ice Skating in Curry Village Kerri Holden/DNC Parks and Resorts in Yosemite, Inc.

Meadowood Napa Valley

While the grape harvest may be winding down in the Napa Valley, with vines changing from yellow to red until the leaves fall off for the dormant winter, the celebration’s far from over. In fact, it’s just gearing up with events and specials kicking off the holiday season this weekend, and festive traditions, delicious meals, and cozy hotel packages to hold us through the winter. If sunshine and wine aren’t enough, here are 10 more reasons to spend the winter in wine country.


1. Dinner on Us package from the Napa River Inn, now through March 31, Napa: The downtown Napa hotel offers a special gift that takes the chill out of winter—the “Dinner on Us!” package including overnight accommodation in select rooms and a credit of $100 for dinner at Angele, Fish Story, Tyler Florence's Rotisserie and Wine, or Morimoto Napa. napariverinn.com.

2. Festival of Lights, Nov. 26, Yountville: Get in the holiday groove with this annual spectacle of twinkling lights and a winter wonderland complete with carolers, horse-drawn carriages, and ice carvings. More than 20 wineries and the region’s top restaurants will be serving their best wines and bites, while galleries, shops, and restaurants stay open late for holiday shopping and dining. yountville.com.

3. Serenity Special at Milliken Creek Inn & Spa, Nov. 26 & Nov. 29, Napa: Start off the holidays right with a sanity retreat to this boutique hotel tucked in the verdant hills of wine country. For every reservation booked on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, the hotel will throw in a complimentary aromatherapy massage at its charming spa or out on a tree-shaded pavilion overlooking the Napa River. Talk about some needed pre-holiday stress relief. millikencreekinn.com.

12 Days of Christmas. Photo Courtesy of Meadowood.4. The Twelve Days of Christmas at Meadowood Napa Valley, Dec. 3—18, St. Helena: Twelve renowned chefs (one from as far away as Sweden) join forces with 12 preeminent Napa Valley vintners for, you guessed it, 12 top-notch holiday feasts. New local chef Masaharu Morimoto will start off the fun while Meadowood’s own Christopher Kostow will host the finale. Proceeds benefit Share Our Strength, a nonprofit fighting to end childhood hunger in America. meadowood.com/events.

5. Winter in the Wineries, Dec. 3—Feb. 6, Calistoga: Tour, taste, and talk with winemakers at 16 award-winning Northern Napa Valley wineries. Those with a $50 passport get unlimited winery visits, 16 tastings (one at each winery), as well as deals at several local restaurants and hotels. calistogavisitors.com.

6. Lighted Tractor Parade, Dec. 4, Calistoga: A quirky take on the small-town holiday parade celebrates its 15th year with colorfully lit tractors and construction equipment to ring in the holidays while lauding the region’s agricultural heritage. Don’t worry, The Big Guy in Red will make a visit too. calistogavisitors.com.

7. Napa Truffle Festival, Dec. 10—12, Napa: The inaugural festival brings together leading experts and Michelin-star chefs for seminars, cooking classes, wine pairing, an Epicurean Marketplace, and the much-anticipated Michelin Star Truffle Dinner hosted by Chef Ken Frank of La Toque restaurant—all dedicated to the rare black truffle. napatrufflefestival.com.

Photo courtesy of the Calistoga Chamber of Commerce.8. Resolution Rehab at the Poetry Inn, Starting Jan. 1, Napa: If you’re really serious about those New Year’s resolutions, Napa’s Poetry Inn might be the place to get you into gear. Pairing accommodations with one-on-one life coach sessions, juice cleanses, rejuvenating spa treatments, nutrition consultations, and extreme yoga, the Poetry Inn wants to help you meet all your goals for 2011. poetryinn.com.

9. Yountville’s Moveable Feast Program, Jan. 1—Feb. 28, Yountville: The Michelin-crowned town of Yountville invites visitors to sample its delectables with 11 food-and-wine hotel packages (stays range from a king guest room at the new Hotel Yountville to a 100-year-old railcar at Napa Valley Railway Inn), plus 11 restaurant deals, including special prix fixe menus. yountville.com.

10. Born to Shop Weekend at the Kenwood Inn and Spa, Jan. 14—15, Kenwood: Co-authors of Born to Shop California Wine Country Suzy Gershman and Sarah Lahey will host a post-holiday girlfriend getaway at the Kenwood Inn and Spa, including a four-course wine dinner with Kenwood chef Andrea Di Loreto, a guided shopping excursion to Healdsburg, VIP wine tasting at Hop Kiln Winery, two complimentary breakfasts, and a two-night stay at Kenwood. kenwoodinn.com.

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